Prosperity

November 6, 2014

Philippians 4:10-20
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Prosperity

We, in this country, we have become a prosperity oriented people. In some cases we almost equate our outward wealth with our spirituality. Is that what we glean from this passage that Paul is sharing here?
We love to quote the word that he gives to the Philippians, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” but what prompted that statement. It was because the Philippians were all about giving. They appear to be one of Paul’s primary supporters and as such he speaks this blessing over them. It was the giving that brought the blessing.
Now Paul is not a prosperity preacher in the since of worldly goods. The prosperity that he preaches is the riches of God’s grace and glory in Christ Jesus. He speaks to the rich things God has for us and that isn’t always gained through the riches of this world. The truth is when the soul is pampered in comfort, it often doesn’t grow much in substance. We read about Paul’s training in this principle in the first of this passage. The training we see God taking Paul through and what He wants to bring us through is that of “being content whatever the circumstances”. God’s life and purpose are not really found in the pampering of our flesh, but more in the crucifixion of it. We are actually dying to the outward man and what we perceive its needs and desires to be. Our Christianity isn’t about living out of the benefits and provisions of the outward man, it is about living out of Christ who gives us strength to endure all trials and find contentment whatever our circumstances.
I know this kind of flies in the face of the prosperity teaching many of us have sat under. Indeed God is a God of blessings and most of us can attest to the enormous blessing over our physical lives as well as our spiritual ones. The thing that we need to understand in this hour is that there are going to be tougher days ahead and it is important for us to know and realize that our life and spirituality does not rest on these outward things. There is now a depth and treasure of riches we need to search out in knowing Christ. He alone is the riches that never fail. He is still that God that will meet our need, but it may not conform to the Christian-American mindset that many of us have developed. What’s more, is that we are to learn a key principle, the key to having our needs met, is in our willingness to see and meet the needs in others. This blessing that Paul spoke over the Philippians was birthed out this key principle. Our natural inclination when things get tough is to fear and react by hoarding to ourselves. The spiritual principle is that we see and meet the needs in the body of Christ, as well as blessing those who are in the world.
If we want to really prosper in this hour, it is to be found in the depth and intimacy of your relationship with Christ. It is out of Him that you can do all things. As Paul says here in verse 13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It is only as we lose our supply that we begin to truly experience His supply. Let’s get a revelation of what true prosperity is. It is not in the things that you possess, but in the person that you possess.

Blessings,
#kent

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Come out from among them!

October 21, 2013

Come out from among them!

2 Corinthians 6:17
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,

When we saw the light of the truth that was in Christ Jesus we were drawn to it and started a journey to walk into that light out of the darkness of ignorance and sin that we had formerly dwelt in. For too many of us, walking into that light through our initial conversion and born again experience was enough for us. We may have seen that there is greater light on up ahead, but we have become comfortable in the measure of light we possess. Maturity always requires responsibility. We often want the benefits, but we don’t like to pay the price. Many of us dwell in that place of twilight where darkness is all around us, but we still have a measure of light. It is a place where our flesh can still be comfortable, but at the same time we have enough spirituality that we feel we have satisfied that need. Is this the place where God is content that we dwell? In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Paul exhorts the Corinthians who were in this place, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The Lord is requiring of us purity. He is not a God of compromise, mixture and confusion. By His very nature of truth, He is requiring that we walk in the light of the truth that we have and by the same token continue on to know the Truth. The Spirit of Truth is constantly shining brightly before us and the Spirit within us is compelling us to keep walking toward the light. As the light increases it reveals more and more of the shadow areas of our lives that have been hidden by darkness. As they are revealed the Lord wants to deal and separate ourselves more and more unto Himself. Our God is a consuming fire. As we walk into that fire, the fire is consuming the corruptible things in our lives while at the same time it is purifying the incorruptible and eternal things. In the book of Daniel when the three Israelites were thrown into the blast furnace that was heated seven times hotter, so that even those that threw them in perished; they were seen walking in the furnace, with a fourth person, like unto the Son of Man. The only thing the fire was touching on them was the ropes that bound them. Our flesh is like the rope that binds us from experiencing the fullness of Spirit life. As we walk into God, He is burning away our bondage, compromise and uncleanness.
Moms know that if they put nice clean pretty church clothes on their little children and then let them go outside and play, what is the first thing that is going to happen? The first place they head is to the dirt. Our spiritual lives are much the same way. The Lord is saying you can’t mix with the dirty things around you if you want to stay clean. You have to come away from that and be separated. We can’t still have our fellowship in the world and constantly be around that mindset and spirit if we want our walk pure and clean.
When the Lord is telling us to “come out from among them and be ye separate,” He is exhorting us to separate ourselves unto the truth that He is bringing into our lives. The more we are growing up into Him the more and more He is separating us into a place of holiness and purity, because He wants us to be the light and manifestation of His righteousness and truth. We have already discussed the fact that the world is so turned off to Christianity, because they see so much of the spirit of compromise and hypocrisy at work in our lives. We are fountains of bitter and sweet water. We can talk Jesus out of one side of our mouth while we curse men with the other. God is imparting His truth to us in order to set us free. Our problem is we have to want that freedom, more than we want to maintain our bondage. Are we willing today to hear and heed the Word of the Lord to “come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing?” It is a time for us to no longer linger in the twilight of compromise, but to continue on in our pursuit of truth and righteousness. It is the separation that allows the Lord to receive us into His presence.

Blessings,
kent

The Fast of the Lord

September 6, 2013

The Fast of the Lord

Isaiah 58:3-7
Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

The essence of what it is saying to us is this, we seek God in fasting in prayer and we are not hearing Him answer us. This chapter is addressing why we may not be hearing from God and why our prayers are falling to the ground. Many of us, myself included, often equate our spiritual service to God with our spirituality. We may pray, read our Bible, go to church, sing in the choir, serve on committees, we may even be a deacon or an elder, yet when we are seeking the Lord He is silent.
Recently, I heard a sermon from the noted minister, Charles Stanley. He was addressing the subject of knowing God’s will for our lives. The very first point he made I believe ties in with what the Lord is addressing here in Isaiah 58. He said the first step to hearing God is “Clearing the Path.”
If we are still regarding willful sin in our life it will fragment our spiritual mind and hinder us from thinking, seeing, and hearing clearly in the spirit. We have to deal with those sin issues in our lives if we are going to be in the position of hearing the Spirit.
If we are going through the motions of religious service to God as the Israelites were doing here, then we are in affect, just blowing smoke. God says this is a heart issue. “I desire obedience, not sacrifice.” A true fast of God is not about the going without food and afflicting ourselves outwardly, although I believe the Word does teach that this has it’s place. I believe it will not have the effect we desire in touching God until it is matched with the actions of faith and Christian service through true love in word and deed. As we begin to serve others in a practical way, physically, emotionally and spiritually it will, in itself, lead to a spiritual fast because it will cause us to lay down our lives and sacrifice our wills and desires in order for us to meet those needs.
This scripture talks about ministering to the needs of others but the last sentence says, ” and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” The New Living Translation says it like this, ” do not hide from relatives who need your help.” One of the areas I find I can be most neglectful in is really being sensitive to the needs within my own family and especially with my spouse. This is one of the first places we have to address to have spiritual success in the rest of our lives. If our house is divided and our relationships are broken within our homes and among our relatives, walls are built that hinder our spiritual progress and relationship with God. It is true that sometimes there is only so much we can do from our end and having done all we can we must continue in love and faith. I am reminded of the scripture in 1Peter 3:7 that says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” It is vital that we honor our wives and minister to their needs if we are to be successful in our relationship with God, hearing His will for us and receiving His full blessing. Sometimes I believe I have the mindset that if I am doing spiritual things and it is taking all of my time, my wife will understand if I neglect her, because after all it is for a higher purpose. I forget that one of the highest purposes of God is for me to be one with my wife. It is His plan and purpose that I spend time with my wife, children and grandchildren. That time spent with them is my opportunity to plant into their lives the love and ministry of Christ. It is the opportunity to make Christ real and alive to them through my practical application of loving time spent with them. Our families are one of the greatest acts of spiritual service we have and we can not neglect that if we want to maintain right relationship with the Father. They are our first order of ministry next to Him.
Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me through others, that while I may be going through spiritual motions, if I am not lining my life up with practical application through godly living the other is vanity and emptiness. It falls short in reaching heaven and my prayers fall short in reaching the ears of God. Maybe some of you, like myself, have fallen short in this area and are wondering why you are not hearing from God. These are areas of our lives we must objectively examine and judge, without justifying ourselves, but being totally honest and true before the Lord. Are we shutting up our hearts towards our fellow man, our family, and our neighbor? Are we harboring unforgiveness or bitterness? Our right relationship with God is not just vertical, but horizontal as well. If we fail to relate His love and nature to our fellow man then we fail to relate it to Him. May we learn what the true fast of the Lord is in practical daily living as His life is lived through us in true spiritual service to others.
Isaiah 58:8-14, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.
Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
Isa 58:10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday:
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Isa 58:12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. ”

Blessings,
kent

Poor in Spirit

September 4, 2013

Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5:3
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There is a parable that Jesus gave about a young man who thought he was very rich. He demanded his inheritance from his father and then set out to enjoy all that wealth. We find it wasn’t a long time before he had spent up all of his money on wild living and when all was gone, so were his so called friends. In the days to follow the young man came to a startling revelation. He was no longer rich, there was no longer security, there was no longer a family, or even daily provision. He was forced to take a job caring for pigs, just to share corn husks and trash food that was feed to them.
Many of us go through life and as long as our outward needs are met and things are going well we may never come to a revelation of how poor we truly are. It is usually when we come to the end of ourselves, our resources and feel the gnawing of hunger and emptiness in our soul that we make the discovery of how poor we really are. It is in the acknowledgement of this state that we are in a position to do something about it. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, we realize we are feeding on cornhusk and the emptiness of this natural life. Meanwhile our spiritual man is wretched, blind and naked. Even as Christians we can be so caught up in playing church and pretending religion that we think we have it all and yet that isn’t the way God perceives us at all. Religion may be among the things we acknowledge in our lives or a liturgy and practice we perform out of duty to God, but it isn’t our passion, our desire and our greatest need. We may be out of position with God altogether and not even realize it because we are going through the motions of life and spirituality.
How would we evaluate our relationship with Christ today? Would it be hot, lukewarm or cold? Many of us would have to admit that we are somewhere in the area of lukewarm.
“What’s wrong with lukewarm? That’s good enough isn’t it?”
That is not a good place to be, for the Word makes it quite clear that God doesn’t enjoy the taste of lukewarm. Revelations 3:15-19 may be the Lord’s personal rebuke and exhortation to us if we are in this state. “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! 17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. 19Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude].” Our outward perceptions of ourselves are not always accurate and true. Many of us want to live out of a surface relationship with God like we do with many of our friends. You know how you meet an acquaintance on the street and you say, “Hi, how are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m fine. How are you?”
“I am doing well, thank you. Good talking to you. Have a nice day”
That about sums up the depth many of us may have with God. God isn’t real interested in surface relationships. He is a God of intimacy and depth. He wants to know and deal with the true and deepest issues of our heart and life, but we are always going around saying, “I’m fine, you’re fine, everything is fine.” We are living a lie. We are not acknowledging our true state before Him and He can’t meet us at our point of real need until we are willing to acknowledge how poor in spirit we truly are.
In Isaiah 66:1-2, God tells us, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” It is only the person that acknowledges how truly broken, wretched, blind and naked they are that is open and ready to allow God to meet their need. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, the Father is ever looking for the return of His son, longing for him and never ceasing to love him. He can do nothing for him until the son gets a revelation of his true state of being where he is disconnected and out of fellowship with the Father; that is us. Only in the revelation of spiritual poverty can we acknowledge our need and know that it is only in intimate relationship with the Father God that our spirits are made rich and prosper.
What is the condition of our spirit today?

Blessings,
kent

The Fast of the Lord

April 10, 2013

The Fast of the Lord

Isaiah 58:3-7
Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

The essence of what it is saying to us is this, we seek God in fasting in prayer and we are not hearing Him answer us. This chapter is addressing why we may not be hearing from God and why our prayers are falling to the ground. Many of us, myself included, often equate our spiritual service to God with our spirituality. We may pray, read our Bible, go to church, sing in the choir, serve on committees, we may even be a deacon or an elder, yet when we are seeking the Lord He is silent.
Recently, I heard a sermon from the noted minister, Charles Stanley. He was addressing the subject of knowing God’s will for our lives. The very first point he made I believe ties in with what the Lord is addressing here in Isaiah 58. He said the first step to hearing God is “Clearing the Path.”
If we are still regarding willful sin in our life it will fragment our spiritual mind and hinder us from thinking, seeing, and hearing clearly in the spirit. We have to deal with those sin issues in our lives if we are going to be in the position of hearing the Spirit.
If we are going through the motions of religious service to God as the Israelites were doing here, then we are in affect, just blowing smoke. God says this is a heart issue. “I desire obedience, not sacrifice.” A true fast of God is not about the going without food and afflicting ourselves outwardly, although I believe the Word does teach that this has it’s place. I believe it will not have the effect we desire in touching God until it is matched with the actions of faith and Christian service through true love in word and deed. As we begin to serve others in a practical way, physically, emotionally and spiritually it will, in itself, lead to a spiritual fast because it will cause us to lay down our lives and sacrifice our wills and desires in order for us to meet those needs.
This scripture talks about ministering to the needs of others but the last sentence says, ” and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” The New Living Translation says it like this, ” do not hide from relatives who need your help.” One of the areas I find I can be most neglectful in is really being sensitive to the needs within my own family and especially with my spouse. This is one of the first places we have to address to have spiritual success in the rest of our lives. If our house is divided and our relationships are broken within our homes and among our relatives, walls are built that hinder our spiritual progress and relationship with God. It is true that sometimes there is only so much we can do from our end and having done all we can we must continue in love and faith. I am reminded of the scripture in 1Peter 3:7 that says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” It is vital that we honor our wives and minister to their needs if we are to be successful in our relationship with God, hearing His will for us and receiving His full blessing. Sometimes I believe I have the mindset that if I am doing spiritual things and it is taking all of my time, my wife will understand if I neglect her, because after all it is for a higher purpose. I forget that one of the highest purposes of God is for me to be one with my wife. It is His plan and purpose that I spend time with my wife, children and grandchildren. That time spent with them is my opportunity to plant into their lives the love and ministry of Christ. It is the opportunity to make Christ real and alive to them through my practical application of loving time spent with them. Our families are one of the greatest acts of spiritual service we have and we can not neglect that if we want to maintain right relationship with the Father. They are our first order of ministry next to Him.
Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me through others, that while I may be going through spiritual motions, if I am not lining my life up with practical application through godly living the other is vanity and emptiness. It falls short in reaching heaven and my prayers fall short in reaching the ears of God. Maybe some of you, like myself, have fallen short in this area and are wondering why you are not hearing from God. These are areas of our lives we must objectively examine and judge, without justifying ourselves, but being totally honest and true before the Lord. Are we shutting up our hearts towards our fellow man, our family, and our neighbor? Are we harboring unforgiveness or bitterness? Our right relationship with God is not just vertical, but horizontal as well. If we fail to relate His love and nature to our fellow man then we fail to relate it to Him. May we learn what the true fast of the Lord is in practical daily living as His life is lived through us in true spiritual service to others.
Isaiah 58:8-14, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
Isa 58:10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday:
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Isa 58:12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. ”

Blessings,
kent

Fear

September 20, 2012

 

Fear


Hebrews 11:7
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Fear most often carries with it a negative connotation, something to be avoided and something we don’t want to have.  Let’s speak for a few minutes on the positive aspects of fear.
First, let’s define what fear is as used in the Word of God.  Certainly it can carry the meaning of terror, dread or to be made terrified, fearful and afraid.  It can also carry the meaning of standing in awe, to cause astonishment and awe or be held in awe.  It can mean to fear, reverence, honor and respect.  Fear can be one of those two edged swords that can be good and it can be bad.  Pain is often the same way.  We don’t like pain, but without it how would we know when we were injured or when something wasn’t right or that we need to pay attention to some aspect of our body?  Fear likewise is a natural sense that causes us to be cautious, to respect something or someone who could hurt us, it can even be there to help insure our survival because we fear what could kill or harm us.
All through God’s Word we are exhorted to fear God.  Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.”  Does God want us to be afraid of Him?  Through Christ we have grown to know God as the God of Love, as indeed He is.  1John 4:18 says, ” There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Now we say Lord, I don’t understand, first you say that we are to fear You and then You say there is no fear in love?   How can it be both?  “If fear is the beginning of wisdom, then perfect love is the fulfillment of it.”  We would agree that hope is not faith, but it stands in the place of faith until faith is brought into fulfillment.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1).”  We fear God why, because He is the awesome, all-powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent, creator God of all of Creation.  In the Old Testament, to look upon God was to die; to experience His presence was almost beyond human ability to abide in it.  Many of us have grown up with a watered down version of whom God really is and as such treat Him as almost common or matter of fact.  God should never be seen in this light.  We who are in Christ have an assurance in our hearts where we know God through the love of Christ, but I think we have become disconnected sometimes with true honor, reverence and respect which He is forever worthy of.  This is the fear of the Lord.  We know that in Christ, we are in God and while He still deals with us in loving discipline, we no longer dwell in the fear of judgement that those outside of God must deal with.  When we come into the love of God through Christ, we come into a place where there is no fear in the sense of terror or dread because we come to know Father as Abba (Romans 8:15) or Daddy God.  Still we honor Him in His awesome greatness and yet we experience the acceptance and love of a Father for His Children.  We are able to climb up on His lap, so to speak, in that place of prayer and worship and sense the caress of His wonderful presence and love.  There is no fear in that place of unselfish exchange of love and relationship.
Let’s take a moment to look at the negative side of fear.  Our life is a system of balances.  When something gets out of balance it gets out of the will of God for us.  Fear is such a thing.  There is a spirit of fear that satan uses to torment us, make us afraid and paralyze us from accomplishing God’s will and purpose for us.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  It doesn’t say that He hasn’t given us any fear.  It does say that He hasn’t given us a “spirit of fear”.  A spirit of fear is a demonic thing that is a phobia of something that robs you of your faith and confidence in God.  It exalts some terror, apprehension, or fear above our confidence, peace and security in Christ.  Against such a spirit God has given us love, power and a sound mind to stand in faith and confidence in the Word of God and His Life that is in us.  Does that mean nothing bad can happen to us or that we can’t die?  No, it simply means that when we really have our confidence that God is our all in all and nothing touches us outside His will and purpose, we have peace not fear.  We know, that according to Romans 8:28, “… that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”  When the disciples were rowing for their lives and crying out in the stormy sea for fear that they would perish, Jesus rebuked them because of the little faith.  The more the spirit of fear grips you and finds place in you, the more it will rob you of your faith and confidence in God.  This is the fear that God has given us the victory over through love, power and a sound mind.  Our faith overcomes our fears as we trust Him in the unknown, dreadful and uncharted places of our lives and life’s circumstances.  We have a hiding place in the abiding place of God.  He is a shelter from our storms; He is our deliverer and our salvation.   No matter what satan or life brings, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4).  Courage is a quality that rises up in the face of danger and denies fear its due.  Let us be God’s people of faith and courage that rise to every test in the fear of God, overcoming, “the spirit of fear.”

Blessings,
kent

Closing the Gates

September 18, 2012

Proverbs 4:23-27
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
24Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
26Make levelb paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
27Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Closing the Gates


This morning as I was meditating on what the Lord would have me to write. I saw like a story above me a ledge much like a balcony that was filled with flower pots.  The flowers had been covered with clear plastic and a cold wind was blowing.  From where I was looking the plastic was loose and the wind and cold air was able to get to the flowers and quite possibly freeze them, not because they weren’t covered, but because there was an entrance open through which the cold air could get to them.
What I was seeing through this that there are gates and the openings we may have in our lives that allow the enemy access to touch our lives with his death and destruction; not because we are not covered with the blood of Jesus, but because there areas in our lives we have left unguarded and open for the enemy to come in.  These openings are what the enemy looks for to gain entrance and establish strongholds in our lives.  Often, they may be subtle, verily noticeable and maybe even quite acceptable to the world around us.  Jesus said even a tiny mustard seed can grow into a great tree.  If that is true about faith, then it can be just as true about doubt, fear, unbelief, unforgiveness, impure thoughts, desires and motives, along with numerous other seeds of the flesh that we can allow access if unguarded.
The garden is a good analogy here, because in it we plant good seed of specific plants that we desire to grow to maturity and fruitfulness.  It is like the fruit of the spirit that we desire to cultivate through our relationship with Christ and the body.  For all of us that have ever planted and tried to raise a garden we find that along with the good seed that we planted something begins springing up along with our good plants.  They are called weeds.  While they are uninvited and we didn’t purposely plant those seeds, yet there they are competing for the water and the good soil we provide for the good plants.  One of the necessities of a good garden is not to only water and fertilize or feed it, but to weed it.  It is one of those chores that requires continued diligence, for when we become complacent the weeds can come up and quickly take over; choking out the good plants and stunting their growth and fruitfulness.  We know that we have to frequently go in and weed that garden, get the weeds when they are young and before they have a chance to grow up and go to seed.  We know that if we just pull the tops off, we’ve just dealt with the surface issues and they will soon be rearing their ugly heads again.  As long as the root is still there we haven’t effectively dealt with the weed.  Sometimes, as our garden is immature and still growing it is hard to discern the good plants from the weeds.  We may see the same principle among younger Christians or even in discerning our own behavior.  It may be hard to tell sometimes what is of the world and what is not.
What helps us to discern the difference, even in our own lives, of what is of God and what is not?  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  It is the instrument and tool that we use to uproot those weeds and bring separation between what is acceptable, good and perfect before God and what is not.
Open areas in our lives, unguarded, unprotected and untended can allow the enemy an access to come in.  Most all of us have our areas of weakness and vulnerability.  These are the areas where we need to be particularly vigilant.  Remember who you are and your identity in Christ.  Renounce in the name and by the blood of Jesus any such thing that endeavors to rob that identity from you.  The enemy is always after our identity and if he can cause us to believe the lie then he can cause us to operate and act outside of who Christ has redeemed us to be.  Guard your heart, weed your garden and make sure the covering of the blood of Christ  is secured in all areas of your life.

Blessings,
kent

John 12:1-3
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Mark 14:3
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Guilt and Shame
My choices have filled me with guilt and shame,
Now pursues me mental torment, anguish and pain.
How could God forgive all that I’ve said and done?
Could there truly be complete forgiveness through His Son?
Though His gift is something I could never deserve or earn,
Because of His grace, from darkness to light I’ve now turned.
Washed in the blood of Christ I’m now set free,
Guilt and shame no longer have a hold on me.
Kent Stuck

Shame and Guilt Anoints Love and Mercy


Mary was a product of God’s grace and love through Jesus.  It becomes evident as we read further in the scripture that Mary was a woman of reproach, looked down upon by many of those who thought themselves far more righteous than she.
I saw Mary here as that alabaster jar.  Beautiful stone, but hardened by sin, shame, guilt and rejection.  We can only guess at what might have brought her to this place, but what Mary illustrated for us is that those who are forgiven much, love much.  As I see Mary here breaking this alabaster flask, I see her braking open her very heart.  Out of that formerly hardened heart flows a fragrance so rich, sweet and fragrant that the whole place is filled with it sweet aroma.  Mary doesn’t stop there.  She demonstrates the fruit of true repentance, humility, brokeness, love and adoration.  She pours out upon Jesus not only the sweet fragrance of this perfume, but the deepest expression of worship she could hope to give to Him and show Him.  It wasn’t just about the costliness of the perfume for Jesus, it was about a life, so precious to Him that would be purchased and fully redeemed through Calvary as He became that alabaster container that would be broken and the fragrance of His precious blood would be poured out to anoint all of humanity with the gift of forgiveness from guilt and shame.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I’m not guilty any more because the sweet fragrance of His mercy and sacrifice eradicated forever the stench of my guilt and sin.  When we get a real revelation of what that is then we will feel what Mary felt as she anointed Jesus and washed His feet with her hair and tears.  We will become worship poured out on the One who is so worthy of all of the praise, glory and adoration that we can pour out upon Him.  We will no doubt be ridiculed and resented by the crowds and the religious without who operate out of pretense, rather than heartfelt worship. They have no real clue of what this love affair is about.
Mary gave materially, without reservation, of the most costly possession she owned because it represented the gift of herself, her all, her very heart and soul poured and given to Him who alone was worthy.  Shame and guilt had come to anoint Love and Mercy, because Love and Mercy no longer regarded or held her guilt and shame against her.  If ever there was a love story this is it.  It is a spiritual love exchange like no other.  Instead of her body, she comes to express the giving of all of her heart and soul.  She shows all of us that higher level of worship where what we do is no longer to earn or please, but to express gratitude and worship to the One who took all of our guilt and shame upon Himself and in exchange, allowed us to become partakers in His righteousness, which alone is acceptable to the Father.
Are we willing that our lives would be broken open for Him that all that we are might be dispensed to His glory and honor?  Do we have that heart of immense gratitude, love and worship for all that He has done for us?  Mary was an example to all us how that former guilt and shame can anoint Love and Mercy.  It is loving Him, even as He first loved us, giving Himself for us.  We are the products of the Lord’s grace and mercy.  No greater love should we have than for Him who withheld nothing, and gave everything for us.  Should our lives, like Mary’s, be any less for Him?

Blessings,
kent

Zion

September 14, 2012

Psalm 132:13-18
For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling:
14“This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it—
15I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food.
16I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.
17“Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18I will clothe his enemies with shame,

Zion


Many of us may know that Zion was a stronghold or hill in pre-Israelite time.  David captured this hill from the Jebusites as described in 2 Samuel 5:6-7, “The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” 7Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.”  This is where David  takes up residence.  Here is Psalms 132 Zion is referred to as the desired dwelling of God, His resting place where He eternally dwells and where He is enthroned.  In the natural it was the high place and stronghold of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, the place of headship, rulership, authority and kingdom.
Verse 17 says, “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.  I will clothe his enemies with shame.”  A horn is a “strong one”  What we gather from the scripture and from how Zion and Jerusalem are described in the spiritual sense, we can gather that the natural Jerusalem and Zion are only a shadow of a heavenly Zion and Jerusalem.  King David, is a type of Christ that has come to reclaim and conquer what satan has stolen and gained possession of.  Zion represents the spirit of man which was God breathed and owned but which fell into the enemies’ hands through Adam’s disobedience.  Christ Jesus is the King of Kings that reclaimed Zion upon Calvary.  Hebrews 2:8-11 says, “and put everything under his feet.”
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
That is a scripture to meditate upon for there is a wealth of truth in what is said here.  Jesus conquered Zion which is represented in the redemption of mankind.  Christ is that horn, that “strong one”  Psalms 132:17 refers to, but more than that He has become the eternal resting place and dwelling place of God.  The awesome thing is that we are “in Christ” which brings us into and makes us a part of Zion.  Didn’t Hebrews 2 just say, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  We, the IN-Christed Ones are that Zion and Jerusalem of God.  We are His holy people and the place of His habitation, because our spirits are in Christ.  What we await is the New Jerusalem, the city of God to come down out of the spirit and manifest itself in this natural world.  Christ, Himself will lead that descent.
Revelations 21:1-4 declares, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Do you see that New Jerusalem is not just a location, it is a person.  It is the bride of Christ.  Christ in His people.  Praise God!
There could be so much more written and said about this, but I just felt Father wanted to give us a foretaste of what Zion is all about.

Blessings,
kent

Unless You Change

September 13, 2012

Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Unless You Change


As Father dropped this scripture in my heart today, the thing that caught my eye as I read it were the words, “unless you change.”  I don’t know if that had really stood out to me before, but it must be pretty important because unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Have all of  us that profess to be believers really changed to be like little children or is it pretty much still me making things work, trying to be successful, determining my own destiny and goals and doing what I need too in order to reach them?  Have I really changed?
Little children have certain qualities Father is looking for in us as His children.  He is looking for total trust, dependency, unconditional love and faith.  Little children are most often totally honest, unpretentious, sharing, giving and obedient.  They are innocent and pure in their spirits.  They are curious and hungry to learn about the world around them.  They often see the hearts in people and not just their outward appearance.  We seldom have the untrust and skepticism about children that we have about adults.  Most of the time they are pretty much, “what you see is what you get.”  A small child is seldom arrogant and full of themselves.   They are humble, trusting and loving.  The world is what distorts that simplicity and innocence of children as they grow up and learn its ways,
Jesus is saying that if we want to enter into the kingdom we need to go back and unlearn the ways of the world, so that we can learn the ways of the Father.  We are no longer the children of this world and of its darkness.  We are the children of light, truth and love.  Those qualities are often best observed in a small child.
There is so much of the world and its ways we try to carry with us through our Christian walk and it is not of our of God and it is not our true identity.  It is an orphan spirit that doesn’t truly rest and rely upon Father.  It is selfish, self-centered and self-motivated.  It is easily offended with others and seldom walks in true love and humility, demonstrating “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Spiritual maturity is not growing up to be the best you can be, it is growing up into Him through death to self and identification with Christ.  Self and all its efforts will never transform your life and change you into the image of Christ.  At best, it can only do a cheap imitation.  Only as we lose ourselves and allow Christ to live through us can we be transformed into His likeness and nature.
Let us meditate upon that phrase, “”unless we change” and become like little children.”
We’ll never know Father’s rest in all our effort to please Him and be like Him.  We find it as we just become His little child; loving, trusting and obeying Him.  We find it as we see and do what Daddy does.  As we watch the Father and follow Jesus, we become like little children.

Blessings
kent

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